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Culver pushes to end stem cell ban

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gov. Chet Culver is already calling on the Legislature to lift the state ban on one type of embryonic stem cell research and said he'll propose spending $12.5 million to build a research center.

Culver said his budget request to lawmakers this week will include the money to build Iowa's Center for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Iowa.

He made the announcement at the University of Iowa's Medical Education and Research Facility.

He said lifting the research ban on a type of embryonic stem cell research would give hope to thousands of Iowans suffering from diseases like cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimers.

"Simply lifting the ban will not be enough. We must commit state resources now to finding a cure and ensuring a high quality of life for future generations," he said.

Culver said Iowa is at a competitive disadvantage with Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri, which are moving forward to build research facilities and luring away researchers.

"Iowa continues to tie the hands of our best health science professionals with an outdated ban on this lifesaving research," he said.

Committing state funds to build a research center will put Iowa back in the game "attracting researchers here with our facilities, the great minds on our research staff, and the promise of a welcoming environment for their work," Culver said.

Culver made lifting the ban an issue in his campaign last year. Actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, campaigned on the issue in Des Moines for Culver in October.

The ban was passed by a Republican-controlled Legislature in 2002 and was signed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat. Vilsack called for the ban to be repealed last year, saying that science has advanced since he signed the law.

Supporters of the ban believe embryos are human lives and that it is unethical to create embryos to destroy them in research.

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